Proud New Yorker Spike Lee took time Monday to address the 22nd anniversary of September 11 during a keynote talk at the Toronto Film Festival.
More specifically, Lee recalled being in Los Angeles on that Tuesday in 2001 and, in a crisis, rushing to return to his hometown to be with his family.
“The world has changed since that day,” Lee said Monday about 9/11 during a Visionaries session presented by The Hollywood Reporter.
Lee started his keynote with a 30-minute episode NYC Epicenters 9/11 -> 2021 1/2, his 2021 four-part documentary for HBO that filters the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning of summer 2020, the January 6 insurrection, and the September 11 tragedy from the director’s perspective in New York City.
“There’s some rough stuff you’ll see. But as a filmmaker, I’ve never been one to hide things. It’s not simulated computer stuff. This is really, what happened to, in my opinion (don’t get mad) the greatest city in the world,” Lee said in introducing the episode.
The solemn screening took place to mark the 22nd anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC, which took place midway through that year’s Toronto Film Festival. After the episode ended, Lee returned to the stage to a standing ovation and rapturous applause from the industry conference delegates at TIFF.
Lee recalled being in LA to pitch a film project and then having to take a train back to New York because there were no planes flying.
There were no train tickets either, until one suddenly appeared. “The Pullman porters gave me a bunk bed. And you can’t go from LA to New York, you have to go through Chicago. They had called in advance so I could get a place to sleep. I returned to New York that Friday,” Lee recalled.
On Sunday evening, Lee received the Ebert Director Award at the TIFF Tribute Awards in Toronto.
Lee’s prolific series of films that he both wrote and directed began in 1983 Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We cut headsand Lee has written screenplays for films he directed, including She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Malcolm X, Red Hook Summer, Chi-Raq, BlackKkKlansman And Da 5 Blood. He has been nominated for five Oscars and won best adapted screenplay for 2019 alongside Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott. BlackKkKlansman.